Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

NYSED Commissioner King Can't Understand All The Acrimony Over The Error-Riddled State Tests

New York State Educaton Department Commissioner John King talking about the hostility the NYSED, the NY State Regents and Pearson Education have received over the error-riddled 2012 4th-8th ELA and math exams:

When asked by WNYC’s Beth Fertig, who moderated the panel, Dr. King acknowledged the problems in this year’s state tests designed by Pearson. Because of some faulty test questions, the state and Pearson came under withering attack by critics and the news media. He vowed improvements going forward but also decried the tone of the testing debate.“The tenor of the discourse is so acrimonious, and there is such a sort-of gotcha culture around assessment,” he said, “in part because we are asking more of the assessment system.”

Let's dig through this pile of jive from our illustrious Dr. King, shall we?

First, he acknowledges the problems with this year's tests, including the infamous Pineapple and Hare passage and all the questions the state had to pull from the tests because they had no right answers or too many right answers or the questions didn't make sense or the passages didn't make sense or the translations didn't make sense or, well, you get the idea.

But despite all of these problems with the tests, King, along with his colleague in education reform at the Regents, Merryl Tisch, refuses to pull the tests from high stakes use.

So the state and the local districts will be using these flawed "assessments" to hold back students, declare teachers "ineffective" and eventually fire them and close schools down so that they can be reopened as charters and yet Dr. King can't understand why "the tenor of the discourse is so acrimonious" around the tests.

Really, Dr. King?

You can't understand why the tenor of the discourse over the tests is so acrimonious?

Well, try this on for size - most humans resent dishonest and flawed measures used on them for high stakes decisions that affect their reputations or livelihoods

It's really that simple.

People don't mind being "held accountable" so long as they feel the system is fair.

But the one you and your colleagues in reform have set up definitely does not seem fair.

Dr. King goes on to say that "there is sort of a gotcha culture around assessment in part because we are asking more of the assessment system."

Indeed, there is a "gotcha culture" around assessment because you and your colleagues at the NYSED and the Regents, along with Governor Cuomo and his union collaborators, set up a "gotcha assessment culture" in which you use highly flawed tests filtered through an even more flawed value added measurement system (the one NYC used for ELA teachers had a 52% median margin of error, an 87% maximum margin of error) to play "gotcha" with teachers, declare them "ineffective" and fire them after two years.

What's worse, as has been pointed out by Carol Burris, a teacher can be declared "effective" on all three parts of the new state teacher evaluation system (the 20% based on state test scores, the 20% based on local test scores, the 60% based on classroom observations and other subjective measurements) and STILL be declared "ineffective" overall.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the state keeps the tests secret now, so even if there are problems with the tests, as there were this year, teachers will be unable to point out the problems in public without risking legal action against themselves by the state and Pearson, the testing company.

What could be more emblematic of a "gotcha culture" than using flawed state tests filtered through a value added measurement system with huge margins of error and wide swings in stability and keeping those tests secret so that any problems with them will likely not be revealed until long after the high stakes decisions based on these tests are already made?

In fact, the "gotcha culture" in education began with the reform movement that has looked to scapegoat teachers for all the problems in the public education system and indeed, often looks to scapegoat teachers for all the problems in society (witness Joel Klein and Condi Rice claiming "bad teachers" are putting the nation's security at risk.)

That "gotcha culture" has continued through two presidential administrations, from No Child Left Behind through Race to the Top, and has seen its end game in the Cuomo education reform movement that has brought us Dr. King's vaunted new (and deeply flawed, if not outright dishonest) "assessment system."

If Dr. King doesn't want to face scrutiny for the flaws in his "assessment system" or deal with the hostility it has engendered, then he shouldn't put a deeply flawed "assessment system" into place to begin with and shouldn't use such a system for high stakes decisions that will ruin careers and reputations.

It's that simple.

But Dr. King likes to make believe he doesn't understand this and instead likes to pretend the critics of his highly flawed "assessment system" are the ones who have the problem.

Take a look in the mirror, Dr. King and hold up a copy of both the Pineapple and the Hare and the VAM you're going to use on NY State teachers.

There in the mirror you will see where the fault lies.

1 comment:

  1. TeachmyclassMrMayorJune 6, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    I know that NO ONE is surprised by this. To admit he understands, would be admitting that his beloved system is crap. And that it is the joke the rest of the world not representing an education company (i.e. Pearson) knows it is.